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Nigeria, other countries to set up joint maritime force over criminalities in Gulf of Guinea

IMB calls for caution as piracy incidents in Gulf of Guinea declines

The Nigerian Navy on Wednesday disclosed plans by Nigeria to set up a Maritine Task Force with other countries in the Gulf of Guinea in order to boost security and rid the region of criminalities and other emerging threats.

The chief of Naval Staff, Vice Admiral Awaal Gambo, made this known during a press conference on the Nigerian Navy Presidential Fleet Review (PFR) 2023, in Abuja. The countries in the Gulf of Guinea include Nigeria, Ghana, Benin, Togo, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Guinea, and Cote d’ivoire.

Some of the organised crimes in the Gulf of Guinea include sea piracy, pipeline vandalism, crude oil theft, insurgency, unregulated fishing, pipeline vandalism, kidnapping, among others.

The naval chief who was represented by Rear Admiral Saidu Garba, chief of policy and plans, informed that the formation of the task force would be discussed during the scheduled Maritime discuss set to hold on Saturday, 18th May, 2023 which is expected to have heads of Navies and other key stakeholders in attendance. The maritime discuss is part of activities to mark presidential fleet review.

“One of the deliverables of that engagement would be a formation of a task force, Once we form it, it would be conducted among the nations across the entire Gulf, in which there is information sharing, joint operations at sea; all these will ensure we create a proper architecture that we will use to fight criminalities in our waters”, he said, while noting that incidents of piracy have crept up in the last few months.

He explained that Nigeria, will take the lead, in bringing other countries to setup the force leveraging existing legal instruments such as the Africa Integrated Maritime Strategy (2015), and an African Union resolution for the formation of maritime task forces across the regions of Africa.

He noted that one of the directives in the strategy is the formation of different forces across the region such as the Multinational Joint Task Force.

“We will use this instrument and other instruments. As you can see, we already have a legal backing, he said.

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He further explained that the framework also have provision for logistics as well as funding which be contributory by all nations involved, and the burden will be borne by all nations involved.

“The nations will bring ships and aircraft, it is a broad arrangement that is already in place, which is derived from AU instructions or directives, so it is not just a local thing”, the CNS added.

Earlier, the CNS informed that President Muhammadu Buhari would commence the PFR from Friday 19 — Monday 22 May 2023 in Lagos.

Gambo said the review is an avenue for the President to assess the navy’s preparedness to meet statutory obligations in maritime security, safety and defence within a global/regional collaborative approach.

PFRs are traditional events, which navies across the world conduct in order to honour their sovereigns or heads of government. It involves assemblage of ships and other maritime assets at a designated area for the purpose of demonstrating loyalty and allegiance to the State.

During a PFR, the president/head of state is invited to review the fleet in commemoration of a historical event, celebration of important anniversary or any other activity deemed necessary. Some of the occasions to organise a fleet review include special landmarks of either the navy or the country.

According to the Naval Chief, the high point of the PFR-2023 will be on Monday 22 May 2023 at the NDL from 9am — I 2noon. During the event, Buhari is expected to review the navy Fleet at anchorage along Lagos channel and commission 2 ships (NNS KADA and NNS IBENO) and a recently acquired NN helicopter.

“The PFR involves 16 NN warships, 3 x AW109E Nigerian Navy helicopters and a mix of Nigerian Air Force (NAF) Aircraft,” Garba noted.

He said some foreign warships from allied nations including Spain, Brazil and Ghana are also expected to participate in the exercise.